Sudan's Al Burhan holds talks with Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara

Sudanese military ruler makes his fifth foreign visit since leaving war-ravaged Khartoum last month

Sudan's military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan meets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara on Wednesday. Turkish President Press Office / EPA
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Sudan's military ruler Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan flew on Wednesday to Ankara where he held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It was Gen Al Burhan's fifth foreign trip in a little more than two weeks. Analysts say the visits reflect the army chief's wish to rally regional support as his troops continue to fight the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in a ruinous conflict that broke out in mid-April.

Gen Al Burhan has since late last month visited Egypt, South Sudan and Eritrea – three of the country's seven neighbours – as well as Qatar.

The visits, according to analysts, also betray Gen Al Burhan's desire to project an image of himself as the sole legitimate leader of Sudan and to debunk what he sees as falsehoods about the conflict propagated by RSF commander Gen Mohamed Dagalo, his one-time ally and deputy.

“He is trying to tell the world that there's a government in Sudan and that he exists and functions as the head of state,” said Sudanese analyst Tareq Abu Shura. “Sudan has weakened after the war broke out and many nations in the region are eager to secure a foothold there for when the war ends. These visits strengthen Sudan in the face of these challenges.”

In Ankara, Gen Al Burhan and President Erdogan held talks focused on "bilateral relations and pushing forward cooperation between Turkey and Sudan", according to a Sudanese presidential statement. It gave no other details.

Notably, one of the senior officials accompanying Gen Al Burhan is Gen Mirghany Idrees Suliman, head of Sudan's military industries. That, the analysts said, suggests that Gen Al Burhan was likely to request military aid from Turkey.

He was also expected to request humanitarian aid from Ankara, according to the analysts.

“Turkey is a key regional power that has extensive ties with Sudan and a prominent place on the world stage. Al Burhan will look to it for diplomatic support in the international arena as well as military aid,” said another Sudanese analyst, Omar Atta Al Menan.

Egyptian officials closely monitoring Sudan said that during his recent visit to South Sudan, Gen Al Burhan asked for Juba's help to persuade rebel groups in western Sudan to halt their hostile activities against the army and instead join the fight against the RSF. Juba has traditionally enjoyed close ties with these groups.

The conflict in Sudan has created a monumental humanitarian crisis with more than five million of the nation's 48 million people displaced. Of these, more than a million fled across the border into neighbouring nations, chiefly Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, and the Central African Republic.

Those trapped by the fighting in Khartoum suffer lengthy water and power cuts, scarce health care and skyrocketing food and fuel prices.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 3:47 PM